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February 11, 2013; Source:Fast Company

There has been some skepticism around Google Plus gaining popularity in the social media world ever since it was launched in 2011, but as Dave Llorens writes for Fast Company, Google Plus has been adding some innovative new tools that could ultimately put in on a “path to social media domination.” How might your nonprofit organization benefit from some of the changes that Google Plus is making?

First, Google Plus has gone hyperlocal by integrating all of its local information and maps features into local business listings. Organizations looking to improve SEO and get noticed when potential clients are searching online should consider creating a Google Plus Local page and encouraging social media followers to recommend and review your organization. Google Plus Local makes it easy for anyone to “google” your organization and come to one landing page that will guide him or her to where you are, what services you offer, and what people think about you. We also recommend assigning your nonprofit to up to five categories in order to show up in the most search results (though of course you should only list yourself under relevant categories unless you want those searching to think of you as a jerk). Also, make sure your location is correct in all major online directories to ensure Google’s local search will correctly sync up your location.

Google Hangouts have been around since the launch of Google Plus in 2011, but these live web chats are gaining ground in light of recent improvements. For instance, hangouts can now be saved and stored in YouTube automatically after recording. That provides a pretty seamless pathway from a small group gathering to a massive audience and offers nonprofits another possibility for telling their story. It could also make the Hangouts-to-YouTube conversion the next big video blogging sensation.

Finally, Google Plus also recently released a new group feature called Communities, which creates a page for like-minded individuals to start discussions. This handy office communication tool presents organizations with a myriad of options, including the ability to create personalized co-worker circles, to share content and information, and to organize Google Hangouts that can serve the role of facilitating online meetings no matter where one’s collaborators may be in the world. Will 2013 be the year that Google Plus rises to the top of the social media pyramid? If it hasn’t already, will your nonprofit make use of any of these Google Plus tools? –Aine Creedon